Replay of the show featuring Cats in Space.
I asked the band to chose a track that influenced them to pick up their chosen instrument and write a couple of lines as to why they chose it. With Cats in Space I got several essays! With limited time on air I couldn’t read the whole descriptions but I have printed them here below the radio player.
Having been brought up with Classical training I was always drawn to music with a dramatic or symphonic element. Hence my earliest keyboard influences would include Richard Tandy (ELO), Tony Banks (Genesis), Keith Emerson (ELP), & Richard Wright (Pink Floyd.)
Albums that I spent many hours listening too and wearing out many a music centre needle on were things like Tubular Bells, and War of the Worlds, along with other (what would now be termed Prog) works by bands like Yes, Alan Parsons, Camel, Tangerine Dream, Krawtwek, and The Enid.
But as far as individual synthesiser players in my formative years I would have to mention players like Vangelis, Isao Tomita, Jean Michel Jarre and Rick Wakeman.
It’s difficult to chose a single piece as most of the ones that come to mind are all 10-minute plus compositions full of key changes and multiple, weird time signatures (why write in 4/4 when there’s all those quavers sitting around doing nothing!) – but in light of the recent passing of Keith Emerson I choose their bombastic Fanfare For the Common Man!
Having older brothers was a bonus for me, as i got into music at a very early age. Up until 1970, when i was merely 6, it was a case of Beatles, Lulu and the odd weird Eurovision song coming out my brothers room on his ‘Dansette’ record player. Then in that crazy ‘World Cup Summer’ a song, or rather a ‘sound’ came out of our television set one Thursday evening that changed me forever.. The song was ‘Hot Love’, the man was Marc Bolan, and the ‘Sound’ was a Gibson Les Paul…. A power chord sound that echoed into my brain and stayed there-it was massive, it was excitement beyond any football team or girl in my class at school . It was MAGIC! I was young, had no idea what life would bring or take away, but i knew right there and then this was the only path for me.
A year or so later a new band emerged called ‘The Sweet’, and it was seeing them that totally had me reeled in, and they became an obsession 24/7, and to this day i still get a genuine excitement whenever i hear the band. Over the years i have heard so much music, and bands like Queen, Thin Lizzy, Kiss and a whole host of obscure American AOR bands have played a major part in my life, especially Queen and Thin Lizzy who influence my every move to this day- and always will. But for the reason why i got into playing and wanting to be a songwriter and rock and roll star in the first place, was listening to the band that came into my life first… ‘The Sweet’, be it the ‘A-sides’ or the heavy rock ‘B-Sides’ i loved everything they did.. and choosing one particular song would be like choosing a favourite Cat! But for the ‘ground zero’ moment when all the lights went on in my schoolboy brain, it would have to be ‘Hellraiser’…..a song that was so powerful i thought it would be illegal!
From the Spring of 1973 my die was cast- school and everything that went with it was pointless, dull and grey… Being in the Sweet seemed to be the techni-colour crazy cartoon life that i wanted. Badly. Going full circle i even got to work with Andy Scott from ‘The Sweet’ on ‘Mr.Heartache’, the debut single for the Cats album… Careful what you wish for!
I was lucky as i have had a direction and goal from the age of just 10… and i thank these bands for that. “Rock and Roll is not just a term for a form of popular music, it is a statement, a purpose, and a way of life”
It was May 1977.. My twin brother and myself were uncannily the same 9 years old. We had been to a yard sale and bought back a heavy wooden cased Garrard record player. We set it up in the family garden. Our parents had an expensive Sony music centre, but that was a no-go! So armed with loads of scratched 45 rpm vinyl singles that we’d got thrown in as part of the deal, we proceeded to play ‘hit or miss’. A game involving good and bad vinyl records and a brick wall twenty feet away… I do remember two records as clear as day! One was a hit and one was a definite miss! The very first one we played was a random harmonica dirge called Like A Rolling Stone, it was a miss! Thrown at the brick wall and smashed into a million pieces! (I know! I’m so sorry Bob Dylan!) Many more rubbish tunes followed Bob, and the pile got bigger. God knows what amazing classics we unknowingly destroyed! Then out of the blue came a track with the coolest rock drum shuffle.. I’d never heard this very fast staccato pattern before and it so caught my attention, not that I really knew much about drums anyway! (Nothing changed there!) We played it over and over. We couldn’t even read the label to see who it was. Eventually all the neighbours complained as this track was blasting out over and over as we non stop air-drummed all that sunny afternoon!! It was awesome!! Eventually we stopped the record and read the record’s label and it was Solid Gold Easy Action by T.REX! I have told Bill Legend this story and he loved it! From then on I knew drums were for me. I eventually got to play an LP on my parents hifi, and that first huge drum sound epiphany was Kill The King by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow… Cozy was now my all time hero and remains so to this day. But without Bill’s drumming on T.REX’s Easy Action, I’d probably be a 22 stone trucker by now! I guess there’ still time though 🙂
My story starts early 70’s (I won’t say how early) standing out side my older brothers bedroom door listening to these wonderful sounds coming out of his Elizabethan music centre. Most of which I didn’t understand until I heard a little song called Black knight blaring out and I was suddenly blown away and that as they say was that. Ian Gillian’s soaring vocal ability and the thundering slightly distorted bass sound from Roger Glover combined with the totally over the top drums from Paice and the wizardry of John Lord and those majestic keyboards top off with genius of Mr Blackmore on guitar turned me into a Deep Purple fan and I still remain one today. That’s were it all started for me and as a massive Purple fan when many years later I had the opportunity to actually record a single with Ian Gillian and ex Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden ( albeit just a few backing vocals and the odd grunt or two) called South Africa I jumped at the chance. I also had the opportunity to recant the story to Mr Gillian a few years ago whilst I was still with The Sweet and we were sharing some festival stages in Europe and Scandinavia, he laughed said he was glad he could help and then he bought me a couple of beers, sometimes it’s great to meet your heroes and he was and is. Now I’m in a band with Dean Howard now how cool is that….. and the story’s not over yet ✌️ as another cool song goes ” Gotta Keep On Rockin”
Right where do I start? My earliest album that really got my attention was the first ‘Chicago’ album , ‘Chicago transit authority’, 1969-70, that was definitely my first awareness of a ‘Fender Stratocaster’ , due to free form guitar by Terry Kath, weird brilliance, how can you make those noises out of a guitar? I was introduced to this album by my uncle Robert who was a big ‘Yes’ fan so the ‘Yes album’ then ‘Fragile’ are one of my favourite albums ever. ‘Close to the edge’ also played a major part in my formative years.
But, on the flip side, I loved pop music too, ‘The Partridge Family’, kids with guitars, that were very cool back then!! Alice Cooper came into my life when I was 11, the same time as i got my first guitar, then in ‘72 ish I heard ‘Hey Joe’ by the one and only Jimi Hendrix, that pretty much sums it up! So…..“Hey Joe” it is for me.
In my Teens i was an aspiring guitarist influenced by bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep purple, Queen, Judas Priest amoung many others but the song that i would say really inspired me to be a musician was Led Zeppelin’s ‘No Quarter’ from the album ‘The Song Remains The Same’. Taken from live concerts i was excited by the freedom of improvisation and creativity from the performances. I knew music was my path back then and as well as playing guitar i would sing along to songs always always singing and finding harmonies to every track. It wasn’t until i was between 24 and 25 years old that when i was asked to sing lead in a band i took vocals seriously.
Influenced by great vocalists back then such as Dio, Gillan, Mercury, Plant, Klaus Meine, among others i took some operatic lessons for a while. My music career since then has mainly been attributed to my voice but i still teach guitar and play the instrument that inspired me from the beginning.